Mercedes Joins Ferrari in Clash With F1 Owners Liberty Media
Team boss Toto Wolff ain't havin' it.
Changes introduced to Formula 1 by Liberty Media have received mixed reactions from several teams, the most noteworthy being the series stalwart, Ferrari. The Maranello squad event went as far as threatening to leave the sport if its requests weren't met, influencing others to voice their opinions on revised engine regulations and cost-cutting measures proposed by Liberty. Now, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has spoken out against the American company's clout over F1, downplaying the supposedly positive turn that the series has taken in 2017.
Among other issues, Mercedes' largest problem with Liberty Media remains the switch to simpler, cheaper powerplants in 2021. Despite some saying that the new engine rules could lower operating expenses, Wolff and Co. believe it to be unnecessarily complicated to redevelop a power unit without an MGU-H. The team professed its doubts about the situation almost immediately after news of the switch up broke and has since maintained that attitude.
"It means a complete new development," Wolff told the German publication Auto Motor und Sport. "That would mean that we would have to work on two engines at the same time between 2018 and 2020."
Since the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Wolff has kept a similar outlook on Liberty's changes. When asked for a highlight of 2017 inspired by the series' new owners, he simply replied "nothing" to another German source, Kronen Zeitung. He elaborated shortly after by describing the specifics of the problem. "Doing erratic actions like Michael Buffer in Austin does not make the sport any better."
Wolff sneered at the idea of Liberty simply wanting closer racing and a broader audience.
"But we do not see any vision," he said. "Nobody knows where the journey is going. All we know now is that sales and profits have fallen sharply."
The Mercedes head honcho was promptly asked if he would follow suit with Ferrari if things didn't change.
"Such a scenario is quite conceivable, just as it is for Ferrari." Wolff said. "If we do not see what Formula 1 stands for, then we have to ask ourselves the difficult question: Not if but where do we want to operate in motorsport at the highest level?"